How to Scrap Your Home Solar Panel Setup and Go Fully Off-Grid

How to Scrap Your Home Solar Panel Setup and Go Fully Off-Grid

How to Scrap Your Home Solar Panel Setup and Go Fully Off-Grid

Going fully off-grid with your home energy system can seem daunting, but it is achievable if you take the right steps. Here is a comprehensive guide on how I scrapped my grid-tied solar panel setup and transitioned to a fully off-grid solar system.

Assessing Your Energy Needs

The first step is to accurately assess your home’s energy needs. This will determine the size of the off-grid system you need.

  • Take stock of all electrical appliances and devices in your home and estimate their average daily energy consumption. Consider essentials like lights, refrigerator, cooking appliances, well pump, entertainment and office devices.

  • Monitor your energy use for each appliance over a full year to account for seasonal variations.

  • Maintain a load calculation spreadsheet to tally your total daily and annual energy needs. Plan for future needs too.

  • As a rule of thumb, plan for 3-5 kW solar arrays for minimal energy homes up to 10 kW or more for high consumption households.

Designing the Off-Grid Solar System

Once your energy needs are determined, design a complete off-grid system with these key components:

Solar Panels

  • Size your solar array to meet at least 100% of your annual energy needs. Oversize by 20-30% to account for system losses and cloudy weather.

  • Choose mono or polycrystalline silicon panels for best efficiency. Consider high efficiency models too.

  • Mount panels on ground or rooftop solar mounts oriented toward true south (northern hemisphere) at a 15-30 degree tilt angle.

Batteries

  • Use deep cycle lead-acid, lithium-ion or saltwater batteries. Lithium has highest lifespan and efficiency.

  • Calculate 3-5 days of autonomy for battery storage. Higher days for unpredictable weather.

  • Set up series and parallel battery banks to achieve required voltage and capacity.

Charge Controller

  • Use MPPT charge controllers for optimal solar charging and load distribution.

  • Size your charge controller to handle 1.2 to 1.5 times your total solar array and load capacity.

Inverter

  • Choose a pure sine wave inverter capable of running your largest loads continuously.

  • Size your inverter for 20-30% more capacity than your peak load requirement.

Wiring and Breakers

  • Use thick copper wiring rated for solar DC and AC capacities. Avoid voltage drops.

  • Install DC and AC disconnects, breakers and safety switches.

Removing the Grid-Tie System

Before going off-grid, I had to dismantle my existing grid-tied solar panel setup safely.

  • Turn off and disconnect the main grid connection point and panel breaker. Verify loss of power.

  • Remove grid-tie inverters, supply lines and racking. Usually not suitable for off-grid.

  • Seal any openings into the house created by removing grid-tie system components.

Installing the Off-Grid System

With my home’s energy needs assessed and system designed, it was time to size, purchase and install the components.

  • Accurately measure roof and ground areas for solar panels. Include shading obstructions.

  • Purchase quality solar panels, batteries, charge controller, inverter and wiring. Get spare parts too.

  • Hire licensed electricians to install wiring runs, breaker boxes and outlets. Follow electrical code.

  • Mount ground or rooftop solar panel racks and fix panels as per manufacturer guidance.

  • Connect all components – solar panels to charge controller, batteries to charge controller and inverter, AC outlets and loads to inverter.

  • Do multiple checks on all connections before powering up the system.

Operating and Maintaining the Off-Grid System

With safety checks completed, I powered up my new off-grid solar system. But the work doesn’t end here.

  • Monitor system data daily – solar generation, battery charge and load consumption. Track for anomalies.

  • Use energy efficiently – turn off unused lights and appliances, use efficient devices.

  • Schedule high current loads during peak solar hours to minimize battery drain.

  • Perform regular maintenance – check connections, clean panels, equalize batteries.

  • Winterize batteries and panels to prevent damage in harsh weather.

Living Off-Grid

It took research, planning and hard work, but I successfully scrapped my home’s grid-tied solar system and went completely off-grid. Here are some rewards of my off-grid lifestyle:

  • Energy independence – no reliance on the utility grid anymore!

  • Cost savings – no more electric bills after system pays for itself.

  • Peace of mind – secure reliable power even during blackouts.

  • Eco-friendly – 100% solar power with minimal environmental impact.

While not for everyone, for me the benefits of off-grid solar outweigh the challenges. Careful planning and design enabled a smooth transition. With proper maintenance, my system provides sustainable energy for a comfortable off-grid life.